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The Starts and Stops of Air Cylinders

In nearly every old-timey Hollywood hit there is bound to be a dramatic scene depicting the picturesque steam engine train racing across the pristine landscape. Popular locomotive history is likewise riddled with praise for the steam engine, yet there are few mentions of its fireless companion: the air cylinder powered train. Maybe the name just is not quite as catchy. Names aside, pneumatic cylinders were popular in the locomotive world of the past. Far from a relic, however, air cylinders are in wide use today. Found in virtually every modern form of transportation, they generate linear force and motion from compressed air. These economic and environmentally friendly devices are responsible for the stop and start of planes, trains, automobiles and more.

Ball Screws: The Method of Choice in Linear Actuation Applications

When I think of a screw, the first thing that comes to mind, of course, is a threaded fastener that holds two objects together. Those simple little things sure do come in handy. In fact, I used a couple yesterday to re-attach my closet organizer to the wall after it had collapsed under the weight of all my clothes. Standard screws are composed of a threaded shaft (the main component, with the spiral grooves running horizontally) and a nut, the small piece with internal threading that runs up and down the shaft. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, not in all cases. They aren’t well known, but there are power screws out there that do much more than hold objects securely together. One of those types is a ball screw. While they are essentially composed of the same parts, these screws are more complicated and vital components in many technically advanced applications.

Friction Materials: Essential for Motion Control & Braking

Let’s imagine for a moment a world without friction, which is, simply put, the force resistant to movement when any two objects rub against each other. Wait a second… that’s just too chaotic! If you think the world is a disaster now, just take away friction and… boom! Everything crashes into everything because there’s no force to stop it. So, here’s what I’ll do: I’ll just take away the friction between your posterior and what it’s sitting on… I need a good laugh today. You can’t stay put can you? Keep slipping and sliding, huh?

Relying on Gears, Speed Reducers Offer Power Transmission Solutions

Due to the advancements in electronic controls, mechanical engineers may have the tendency to bypass the use of gearing, as the robust gears used in machinery of high speed and high power are quite complex in design. However, electronics has a hard time beating gears for such dedicated, high accuracy requirements as in automobile transmissions. For a variety of internal machinery workings, gears are optimum for changing the rate of rotation, the direction of the axis of rotation, and rotary motion to linear motion. The multitude of gear types can be combined in many ways to create larger gear units, such as gear heads, gear boxes, gear reducers and gearmotors – which all fall under the category speed reducers.

4 Springs for Countless Applications

From micro springs used in such devices as pacemakers to gigantic ones functioning within a NASA shuttle, we are surrounded by springs our entire lives. Our very own HyTech Spring and Machine Corporation, a master designer and manufacturer of miniature springs, precision springs and custom springs, emphasizes: ‘There are few products built today that don’t rely on a spring.’ So let’s take a look at the four main types of springs.

Bellows With A Twist – Electrodeposited nickel bellows couplings flex to fit misaligned shafts yet remain torsionally stiff.

What do a micron-precision silicon wafer cutter, a surgical microscope focusing mechanism, and a target sighting system for an MIA2 Abrams tank all have in common? Each contains an electrodeposited nickel bellows coupling. Such couplings excel in instrumentation and fractional-horsepower applications but are occasionally overlooked because they tend to cost more than other types. Couplings are typically rated by their torque capacity, rotational inertia, resistance to the elements, service life, windup and backlash levels, and flexibility. By all these measures, electrodeposited bellows couplings compare favorably to competitive designs.

Running on Air – Foreign Auto Markets Turn to Pneumatic Motors and Air Cars for More Power

MDI isn’t the only company working on giving new meaning to the phrase ‘running on air’. Scoring high in both environmental sustainability and economy, the pneumatic engine idea has been in development for 30 years at Di Pietro Motors, another Australian motor development company headed by former Mercedes-Benz designer Angelo Di Pietro. His air motor boasts incredible energy economy and superb environmental design. Gast Manufacturing right here in Michigan has a line of air motors and gearmotors available for use material handling applications such as mixer motors, pump drives and hoist motors. How exactly does a car run on air? Different companies working on pneumatically powered engines have developed different formats (Di Pietro’s engine is rotary, whereas MDI’s is powered by pistons), but the concept is basically the same…

Ball Bearings: Motion Technology for a Spinning World

Leonardo da Vinci is credited with introducing the modern ball bearing circa 1497, adding friction reduction to his long list of useful, functional and not-so-functional inventions. Da vinci was not the first to come up with ideas for friction reduction or motion improvement, however; ball bearings have been found on ‘luxury yachts’ of the Roman Empire dating back to 40 A.D., and the basic technology of linear roller bearings has been used in the building of many monuments of ancient civilizations, such as Egypt’s Giza pyramids and possibly Great Britain’s Stonehenge. Just as multi-ton blocks of stone were transported long distances by being rolled across bearings of logs and platforms, modern motors, axles and even building columns are given movement and stability by the modernized ball bearing (Fig. 1)…

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